Category Archives: Creativity

Illustration of 5 Oscars in a row

Why Most Company Videos Suck and How To Ensure Yours Doesn’t

| Posted in Creativity

There are a lot of company videos out there. Yes, there are some good ones, but most suck.

Now, I don’t mean a company’s product and services video, I mean those company videos designed to show off the people, culture and working environment.

Scott loves to makes things – whether it’s a data inspired digital experience for one of the world’s most loved brands, a best selling book aimed at getting Dads to make ‘cool stuff’, or an illustrated project for his award winning blog. It’s this approach that has helped him win business, win followers and win awards. Fun fact: As a kid he won a national drawing competition and was invited to the Take Hart studios to meet Tony Hart, but was left devastated when told he couldn’t meet Morph!​
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Fleet of Foot and Feather

| Posted in Creativity

Here at Black Swan, we do a whole heap of things really well. Just check out the other blog posts and you’ll get a feel for the breadth of things we do, and think of doing. And even think about thinking about.

Gavin started out helping researchers do innovative things with data. Nearly 30 years later, he’s helping organisations do the same thing, having spent the intervening period managing IT teams and technologies for SME’s and PLC’s, most recently as CIO for marketing communication group, Creston plc.
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UI and UX – Time and Space

| Posted in Creativity

It’s a pretty regular debate for us, here in the Black Swan Creative team. What is UX anyway? A little like Justice Stewart and his observation on obscenity, we know it when we see it, but an exact definition eludes us. The boundaries between UI design and UX design are incorrigibly blurred and seem to change while we’re not looking.

Ross strives to call himself an interaction designer but he’s swimming against the tide; everyone else calls him the UX guy. It doesn’t really matter, he just carries on thinking about how to make software that’s great to use.
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Why Do So Many People Give Up Learning To Code?

| Posted in Creativity

The hottest new skill for all isn’t quite as easy as Codecademy makes it seem

I recently wrote a python script to capture posts and their comments from Facebook and report on the volume, sentiment and topics of discussion. As you’ll quickly realise, my coding skills are self taught through online education platforms such as Codecademy and my ability to write fully functioning tools is still fairly new.

A cygnet from the very earliest days of Black Swan, Ash has worked extensively on creating the Nest analytics platform and if you ask nicely he might even show you his black swan tattoo!
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You Won’t go Hungry at a Hungarian Hackathon!

| Posted in Creativity

Our story began on an average early spring workday, when we were asked by Keve if we want to participate in the Microsoft IOT Hackathon, and since we already have a great interest in the field, and our hobbies are all related to it, we sat down to figure out an innovative idea around environment protection.

Bence is a Front-end Developer, a perfectionist, and always curious. He studied Biology at the University of Szeged, lived in London for a couple years before settling in Hungary (for now). He was infected with the programming bug at a very early age, and passionate about it ever since. Outside work, Bence is constantly looking for new fields to challenge himself, from game development and robotics to woodwork.
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Markus Frise, Head of Data Science, Interviewed for Ajilon.com

| Posted in Creativity

This article originally appeared on the Ajilon.com blog here – an in depth look at  careers and recruitment, by Susan Fourtené, and is reproduced here with her kind permission.

Susan Fourtané is a Science & Technology Journalist with vast experience writing and reporting on supply chain and logistics for industry publications. Susan frequently attends supply chain & logistics events in Europe, being at the heart of new research, and innovation. You can follow her on Twitter @SusanFourtane
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Jeff Headley Learns to Listen to Data

| Posted in Creativity

At some point in our lives, we all figure out the difference between “hearing” vs. “listening”.   Often we learn the hard way.  Maybe you were presenting a conference and three quarters of the audience were staring like zombies into their mobile phones.  Or maybe a close friend was trying to share some important news while you were distracted by other matters. 

Jeff is the Managing Director of Black Swan in the US, based in our New York office. He has led big data projects with Tesco, Kroger, Macy’s, Home Depot and AutoZone, and prior to that he led various data and analytical teams in the retail banking space. In his free time he enjoys guitar, music, Call of Duty and drinking all manner of micro-brews!
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DataSift Guest Post: Are Your Ad Dollars Working Hard Enough?

| Posted in Creativity

With digital ad spend set to outstrip TV, is your ad budget working hard enough?

Zuzanna is responsible for driving all the aspects of DataSift’s marketing strategy. A marketing leader with 15+ years of experience, Zuzanna most recently led brand and marketing for Huddle, the leader in cloud collaboration for the enterprise and government. Former published sociologist, Zuzanna co-founded Custard, a consultancy specializing in digital media and mobile. Its client list boasted innovative startups such as AdMob (now Google) as well as top global brands, including Disney, Nokia and Garmin. Her previous experience spans working with 50+ companies across software, hardware, mobile, telecommunications & networking and engineering.
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DataSift Guest Post: Farewell Don Draper, Hello Social Data

| Posted in Best Practice, Connected Data, Creativity

The Don Draper-style of agency executive and marketer is an enduring one. Big personalities, well connected, they come up with the big creative ideas that impress big (often hard-to-please) clients and result in all-singing, all-dancing campaigns, often devised on the back of long, liquid lunches.

Zuzanna is responsible for driving all the aspects of DataSift’s marketing strategy. A marketing leader with 15+ years of experience, Zuzanna most recently led brand and marketing for Huddle, the leader in cloud collaboration for the enterprise and government. Former published sociologist, Zuzanna co-founded Custard, a consultancy specializing in digital media and mobile. Its client list boasted innovative startups such as AdMob (now Google) as well as top global brands, including Disney, Nokia and Garmin. Her previous experience spans working with 50+ companies across software, hardware, mobile, telecommunications & networking and engineering.
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How To Be A Crab!

| Posted in Creativity, Innovation

I seem to have accidentally stumbled into a seafood theme – I will persist…

Matt’s interest in IT began young with a Commodore 64. From BASIC to book-keeping, his journey through accountancy and legal software led to the much more glamorous world of digital and mobile technology, and Matt now heads up the Black Swan office in New York.
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Users – the Clone Wars

| Posted in Creativity, UX

The great UX revolution of the last decade has brought a wonderful change to the way we design and build software. No longer do we design around the constraints of the technology, blindly mirroring database schemas in view hierarchies and other such crimes against humanity. Now we talk about the end-users of our software, and design around them and their needs. We figure out what they need and then shape the technology around them. That’s great.

Ross strives to call himself an interaction designer but he’s swimming against the tide; everyone else calls him the UX guy. It doesn’t really matter, he just carries on thinking about how to make software that’s great to use.
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Taking Care in the Air

| Posted in Connected Data, Creativity, Data Science, Innovation

Applying Big Data and Cutting Edge Algorithms to Drive Better Passenger OutcomesEverybody is always looking for the cheapest flight available, right? The rise of the budget airlines proves that the only thing people are really interested in when they book a flight is to get the lowest possible price. Well no, actually.

Based in our London office and working with the management team, Mick works on our commercial propositions across a number of different verticals. He comes from an airline background having worked on tech projects for Fly Dubai, Virgin Atlantic and Virgin Holidays. He has also been known to do a bit of scuba diving, so if you’re ever after some dive advice drop him a line at @blackswanmick
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Blowing the Black Swan Trumpet

| Posted in Creativity, Data Science, Investment

Sometimes at Black Swan we have some news we just have to share; the last time we couldn’t keep a cork in it was the UK’s Fastest Growing Start-up award from the Sunday Times.  This time we are delighted to confirm our series B investment has been secured from our friends at Mitsui, Japan’s top corporation and one of the largest groups in the world.

Steve King has worked in tech & data science, man & boy. He puts it down to playing with an abacus from an early age in the depths of Wales, with precious else to do. Now he’s all grown up and as CEO spends his days leading our flagship accounts – zipping regularly from the UK to the US West Coast. He’s one of Black Swan’s founders, citing his sources of inspiration as Nate Silver, standing atop the Gower Peninsular and delivering game changing insights for his clients.
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University of Exeter becomes part of Catapult Centre of Excellence

| Posted in Creativity

Congratulations to our friends and colleagues at the University of Exeter for becoming a Satellite Applications Catapult Centre of Excellence.

The Satellite Applications Catapult is delighted to be adding two more Centres of Excellence in satellite applications to its network, as it continues to broaden its regional engagement and support the sector’s growth in the UK.

Lara is a Copywriter and Communications Manager at Black Swan, and outside work a social media obsessive and music lover. Passionate about the written word from a young age, Lara is on a mission to rid the world of marketing-speak and ‘nonversation’!
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Mark Fingerhut: Part Swan, Part Motion Graphic Artist

| Posted in Creativity

For the past couple of years, whilst in school, I began to research methods of digital content production outside of the mainstream CG pipeline. I grew tired of waiting for renders and baking lightmaps and chose to instead work in a totally real-time environment. The video game engine turned out to be the perfect tool for building all sorts of interactive and motion graphic works.

Mark Fingerhut is a software developer based in Black Swan’s New York office. In his spare time he makes music videos and films, some of which have been featured on TV and at festivals all over the world.
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Introducing The Nest – Black Swan’s Data Platform

| Posted in Creativity

The Nest is Black Swan’s  proprietary data unification platform, an ingenious piece of kit built to ingest data from a mighty range of sources, which in turn enables us to create swift proof of concept algorithms….unlocking solutions through applied prediction.  We are extremely proud of our product; find out more about The Nest in our product video. 

Lara is a Copywriter and Communications Manager at Black Swan, and outside work a social media obsessive and music lover. Passionate about the written word from a young age, Lara is on a mission to rid the world of marketing-speak and ‘nonversation’!
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An Insight is just an M&M – Approaching the insight definition from a sweet perspective

| Posted in Creativity

Hello the Internet,

As most of you, I share my opinion online on a daily basis (thank you Facebook for changing my life), but I don’t often have a real chance to discuss something at the very centre of my life as an Insight expert. Insights are mentioned all the time. I have worked in many departments of advertising agencies, from the creative side to campaign delivery, to the analysis and reporting on KPI.

Marine is a planner at heart. She spends so much time observing the world, understanding behaviour, analysing online conversation and deciphering patterns within pools of data, many think she could be part of the Matrix. After 2 MScs in Advertising & Marketing, Marine joined Black Swan to help the Insight & Innovation team with their interstellar insights.
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Giving Buzzwords their Meaning Back – A Non Technical Introduction to Networks

| Posted in Creativity

There have been a few terms from maths and science that have entered into daily usage to become buzzwords in this past decade: e.g. Chaos, Complexity and Sustainable. We see them branded on buses in adverts; we hear them in business talks and sales pitches; we hear them a lot when a politician is talking but not really saying very much.

Charlotte is a Data Scientist Researcher with a PhD in Engineering Maths and two Masters degrees: one in Complex Systems and one in Earth Sciences. After thinking a lot about systemic risk in economics and finance, she now focuses on finding the right mathematical tools for our algorithms.
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How to not have to make friends & influence people | Opinion Dynamics

| Posted in Creativity

This summer Black Swan went glamping. It was that singular hot day of summer and there we were, at 2pm, sweaty and playing three-legged races in the middle of Sussex. Toward the end of the evening we were treated to the DJing talents of our CEO, and whilst there was no lack of enthusiasm for dancing, the musical tastes of gen X and gen Y were soon apparent.

Charlotte is a Data Scientist Researcher with a PhD in Engineering Maths and two Masters degrees: one in Complex Systems and one in Earth Sciences. After thinking a lot about systemic risk in economics and finance, she now focuses on finding the right mathematical tools for our algorithms.
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The Science of Santa: In the Nick of Time

| Posted in Creativity

It’s Christmas Eve. You’re preparing for the biggest day of the entire year; the only day, in fact, that you’ll get any real work done. The other 364 days have been spent overseeing subordinate clauses, planning your route for this evening’s journey, and most importantly, making a list and checking it twice.

Based in the Black Swan London office, Ally is a mathematician, turned data scientist and social media fanatic. His current focus is crunching numbers, deconstructing tweets, and visualising data for social insights projects.
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